Assessment & Moderation

The Future Seta Landscape Conference – Impact on Government, Business and Labour – VERY IMPORTANT TO ATTEND

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    Skills development practitioners, especially facilitators, face the most dramatic
    upheavals of their careers in the coming months. So says Gill Connellan of the
    Association for Skills Development Facilitation in SA ahead of the body’s
    upcoming annual conference.

    SDFs should gear themselves for a rude awakening


    Skills development practitioners who think the third phase of the National Skills Development
    Strategy (NSDS3) will mean business as usual are in for an awfully rude

    “Almost everything with which practitioners, particularly skills development facilitators (SDFs),
    have become familiar over the years is going to change enormously in the months
    ahead. Just about everybody in this business is going to need to completely
    reinvent themselves,” asserts Gill Connellan, chairperson of the Association
    for Skills Development Facilitation in South Africa.

    “The draft guidelines for NSDS3, published by the Department for Higher Education and
    Training (DHET)earlier this year, and all subsequent communications, make it
    very clear that the clumsy, top-down approach taken to skills development since
    the NSDS was conceived is a thing of the past.

    “Not only has the strategy been redesigned with impact rather than compliance with numerical
    targets in mind, the entire Seta (sector education and training authority)
    landscape is changing – perhaps more radically than we have thus far been led
    to believe – as is the legislative framework.”

    In the past, she says, “SDFs had to be familiar with skills development legislation but only
    needed to demonstrate a passing knowledge of such laws as the Employment Equity
    and Basic Conditions of Employment Acts. Not any more: these laws will become
    much more important to them than the Skills Development and Skills Development
    Levies Acts.”

    Connellan was speaking ahead of the ASDFSA’s annual conference, which takes place at the
    Sunnyside Park Hotel in Gauteng on September 7. The keynote address at the
    one-day event, which has “The future
    Seta landscape – impact on government, business and labour in South Africa as its theme, will be delivered by the deputy director-general of the DHET, Ms
    Adrienne Bird.

    During the first two phases of the NSDS, targets were set by the Department of Labour and Setas
    had to meet these by complying with a formula that was linked to their income
    from skills development levies, regardless of their applicability to the
    sector. For NSDS3, targets will be set by sector stakeholders and be referred
    through the Setas to the Human Resources Development Council’s expert working
    group, which comprises a much higher level of state, business and trade union
    representation than was ever previously the case.

    Targets will be aligned with the objectives of the Medium Term Strategic Framework and other programmes
    designed to foster economic growth and social development.

    One of these initiatives, says John Botha of the Confederation of Associations in the Private Employment Sector
    (Capes), is the International Labour Organisation’s Decent Work programme. Botha
    will address the conference on the implications for SDFs and associated
    professions of Decent Work – a current hobbyhorse of government – as well as
    proposed changes to labour legislation.

    The most important, he says, pertain to temporary employment and employment equity.

    “With employment equity, there are two main issues: the proposed penalties for non-compliant
    companies that will be levied as a percentage of turnover rather than a flat
    maximum amount, and requirements for being awarded government contracts.

    “In future, you won’t be allowed to land a state contract without a certificate of compliance
    from the Department of Labour.”

    Botha says there are procedural and substantive requirements for compliance. “Companies that don’t
    have the proper consultative forums or equity plans can attract huge fines
    similar to those that the Competitions Commission imposes on businesses that
    are found to be in collusion.

    “On the substantive side, companies must set equity targets based on objective criteria. This will
    give huge teeth to watchdogs of the employment equity and skills development
    aspects of sectoral charters.”

    The amendments also plug loopholes whereby employers cite a lack of suitably qualified black people
    for appointing whites. “These companies must show that they have taken
    reasonable steps to generate those skills.”

    Also up for discussion will be the ASDFSA’s progress in scoping and developing curricula
    for a progression registered qualifications and vocational awards for the
    skills development professions. Till now there has been no legislated
    requirement that SDFs possess relevant training or qualifications – despite the
    fact that Setas have spent millions of Rands capacitating facilitators. There
    is no such thing as accredited SDF training because there are no registered

    Hand in hand with this, says recognition of prior learning (RPL) expert Karen Dellar, is the
    issue of how one determines if a person who has been working as an SDF several
    years can be deemed competent to practice without going through a whole
    learning programme.

    “There’s the argument that, because the envisaged qualifications are new, nobody can undergo
    an RPL process. What nonsense!”

    “Virtually all qualifications can be assessed on the basis of prior learning and experience
    for certification purposes. The process doesn’t have to be either expensive or
    time-consuming, no matter what some of the Setas say.”

    Attendance of the conference is R1 350.00 for ASDFSA members and R1 600.00 for non-members.
    Anyone wanting further details can contact Nikki Wimmers on 021 – 6850451 or at


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